It’s that time of year when we pull out pen and paper and begin writing down our big ambitions for the year ahead… many of which we’ll promptly break.

It is for that reason that many of us throw up our hands and say, “Why bother?”

This used to be my mentality, until I went a year without making resolutions. Then I discovered that taking time to sit down, focus, and identify areas of my life that needed improvement was hardly a waste of my time. 

Thomas Jefferson also recognized the value of making a list of goals to strive after. In various letters to friends he recommended the following 10 “canons of conduct.” Jefferson noted that adding these to the original “Decalogue” (aka The 10 Commandments) would “bring pleasure and profit… and praise” to those who follow them.

Interested in making New Year’s resolutions but unsure of where to start? Why not adopt some of Jefferson’s canons of conduct for the coming year?

  1. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do to-day.
  2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
  3. Never spend your money before you have it.
  4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
  5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
  6. We never repent of having eaten too little.
  7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
  8. How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened!
  9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
  10. When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.

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